It’s about 69 degrees at 6:20 a.m. It rained last night, and the morning sky is too cloudy for me to see either VENUS or the CRESCENT MOON. I decided to wander around town a bit, including a trip down to the Faraway end of the island, while I was waiting for my 7:30 birding date with Nita. I didn’t see much for birds until I got back toward the Nature’s Landing parking area. I heard a CARDINAL was singing from the wires along 3rd Street, and once Nita and I started looking together we heard and saw a sizable flock of YELLOW-RUMPED WARBLERS peeping and cheeping in the big OAK TREE at 3rd and Depot Street, where the Nature’s Landing driveway begins. There was also more than one MOCKINGBIRD singing around the edges of the parking lot.

After Nita and I identified the birds around Nature’s Landing, we decided to go over to my favorite morning spots around Cedar Cove. On our way out the Island Room boardwalk to the rocky end of the Park Beach, we stopped to look at the birds in the Cedar Cove Marina. We saw GRACKLES flying around and landing on the tops of the sailboat masts, but then we spotted one of the small blue herons and looked hard to try to figure out which one it was. We saw white shoulders and belly, a white chin and upper throat, a speckling down the front of the neck, black eyes, grayish bone-colored legs, and some brownish feathers on its back. We were pretty sure it was a TRICOLORED HERON, but we had to check several field guides when we got home to be sure.

Next we noticed the little SPOTTED SANDPIPER near the edge of the water, not far from where the small heron was. We looked closely at all its marking too and noticed its rocking and occasional hiccup-like movements.

Then we walked around to the Cedar Cove Townhouses and saw a big flock of BLACK SKIMMERS resting on the beach. We got a good look at their red and black bills and watched them fly up and land again once or twice. We also observed a WILLET walking around on the beach and noticed another shorebird farther out. It had a black head and dark back with white shoulders and belly. It seemed to be digging deep into the sand. I caught a glimpse of red when it raised its head once and decided it was an OYSTERCATCHER.

We had great fun being beginners together trying to puzzle out the birds we were seeing, and we also enjoyed coming back to the condo to compare the pictures in our various field guides. We decided the SIBLEY FIELD GUIDE TO BIRDS OF EASTERN NORTH AMERICA offers the best pictures, including various plumages, but the others offered interesting bits of information too. It was a different but lovely morning.

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